How to Shuffle Cards
The shuffle is an integral part of poker but one that eludes so many card players. Often times players ask themselves, “Why don’t I know how to shuffle like that?” Most of the time the answer is pretty simple: because you’ve never been taught the right way.
No card player wants to admit they don’t know how to shuffle correctly when it becomes their turn to deal. Fortunately, you’ve come to the right place to learn how to shuffle cards like a pro. If you follow the advice of our experts at TopPACasinos.com and practice proper shuffling technique, you will know how to do a perfect shuffle six different ways.
What’s The Point of Shuffling Cards?
The purpose of card shuffling is to randomize the order of the deck. Poker and blackjack are games of skill and chance. In online games, a random number generator ensures the next card is indeed random. In brick-and-mortar casinos, live-dealer games and poker rooms, it’s the shuffle.
Of course, we’re talking about a single standard deck when it comes to human shuffling. When dealing with multiple decks, casinos use shuffling machines. Card shuffling ensures randomness in the order of the cards, reducing the chances of players – and the house – cheating.
According to a study done in 1990 by mathematicians at Columbia University and Harvard University, seven is the ideal number of times to shuffle a standard deck of cards in order to truly randomize the order. Shuffle fewer than that and it’s not fully mixed; shuffle more and you’re just wasting time.
Different Ways To Shuffle Cards
The Riffle Shuffle
An intermediate-level shuffle, the riffle is one of the most common techniques when it comes to shuffling cards.
- First, take the deck of cards in your left hand with the thumb on the top edge and middle and ring ringers supporting on the bottom. Use your second finger to apply some pressure to the middle of the deck bending the cards inward and release pressure with your thumb. This will begin to riffle the cards into your other hand.
- Stop approximately halfway through the deck so that the bottom half of the cards have fallen into the third and fourth finger of the right hands. Once the transfer is complete, the hands should be mirrors of one another, with the thumb on the top edge and the rest of the fingers supporting the deck.
- Turn your hands over and apply the pressure with your second finger again to bend the cards. Gently release with your thumbs by moving up the cards and the two halves should riffle together.
- Now is time for the truly satisfying part, known as the bridge or the “cascade” finish. Push the cards together by bending them with your palms so they make the shape of a rainbow, your fingers still on the bottom of the deck and your thumbs meeting at the top. Release pressure from your thumbs and inside part of your hands again so the cards cascade down into the fingertips.
- Repeat as many times as needed (remember the recommended number of shuffles is seven).
Pro tip: Focus on the riffle first. Getting the cards to fall in an alternating pattern takes practice, so just work on that first. Don’t just cut the cards in half – actively riffle them from one hand to the other. That will give you the feel of what it’s like when you’re doing the hands simultaneously and you’ll learn the proper amount of pressure to apply and release.
Once that becomes consistent, then focus on the bridge and releasing pressure from your palms to let them cascade.
The Table Riffle Shuffle
A beginner shuffle with a similar concept to the riffle, this ends in the cards riffling together but the hand positioning is different and it takes place on a table.
- With the cards flat on the table in a portrait orientation, take your right hand and lift approximately half of the deck, placing it next to the pile.
- With the two halves of the deck now next to one another, hold the cards with your thumbs on the inside edge nearest to you, your second finger resting on top and the other three fingers at the corners on the side.
- Now, while applying pressure with your second finger to the top of the cards, lift the inside corners of the deck off the table with your thumbs.
- The bottom left corner of the deck in your right hand and the bottom right corner of the deck in your left hand should now be touching. Proceed to riffle your thumbs up the deck so the cards overlap and fall into one another.
- The two decks should now be mixed into one another. Push the two packets together, also known as “squaring up” the deck. Repeat as many times as needed.
Pro tip: If the cards aren’t angled enough, it’s common for them to not mix into one another, but instead fall adjacent to each other. Don’t be afraid to start this shuffle with a 45-degree angle between the two decks to make sure they mix. As you get more experienced, you can start doing it with the cards closer to parallel.
The Overhand Shuffle
This is the first shuffle we’re looking at where the deck of cards aren’t parallel to the table, but instead start perpendicular. For most people, this beginner shuffle is the easiest to perform. It will gradually mix the cards while transferring them from the left hand to the right.
- Begin by holding the deck by the sides with your left hand, making sure it’s on its edge. The fingers on your right hand gently rest on bottom of the deck while the thumb sits on the top card.
- While gripping the deck with the left hand and lifting, your thumb and fingers apply pressure to the cards in the front and back of the deck, holding a few cards back that now sit in your right hand.
- With a few cards now in your right hand and most still in the left, your left hand comes back down, your right thumb moves away so it’s back in the initial setup position and then it takes a few more cards.
- This process is repeated until the shuffled deck rests in your right hand.
Pro tip: If you’re not the one performing this shuffle, make sure to watch closely – it is the most common way to perform sleight of hand by magicians or cheaters. This is most frequently done by holding a desired card either on the top of the deck or the bottom and holding onto it the whole time to make sure it ends up in a certain spot (whatever would benefit the attempted cheater).
The Weave Shuffle
You’ve likely done a variation of this advanced shuffle without even knowing you’ve done it, but the Weave Shuffle has a bit of a twist at the end.
- Begin by holding the deck by the edges and using your thumbs, separate it into two equal parts.
- Place the two packets of cards against one another where the top of one set is touching the bottom of the other.
- Push or “weave” them together, so the decks are overlapping by about an inch. The key is not applying too much pressure; the gentler the hand, the easier the cards will slide into one another. Gripping the cards too hard will bend them, thus preventing them from sliding into form.
- Once in position, use one hand to bend the cards into the palm of your other hand, forming the same rainbow formation as in the riffle shuffle. Release the pressure so they cascade into one another.
- Square up the shuffled cards and repeat as many times as desired.
Pro tip: Try this one by yourself, first. Performing the bridge with one hand can be tricky and leaves the potential for cards flying around the room. Begin by only using part of the deck and prove to yourself it’s not too many cards to hold in one hand. Once you’ve done it successfully with a portion of the deck, add more cards to the movement until you have the full 52.
The Hindu Shuffle
The Hindu Shuffle is to the overhand shuffle what the riffle shuffle is to the table riffle shuffle. The ideas are almost the same, just with a few slight variations.
- Begin with the deck face down in your left hand, with the middle finger on the side of one of the long edges and your thumb on the other long edge, but on the bottom.
- Bring your right hand underneath the deck with your thumb on the near side of the cards along the long edge and your middle and ring fingers along the back side. Your index finger remains in front of the deck.
- Gently grab a few cards off the top of the pack with your thumb and middle fingers and allow the removed cards to fall into the palm of your right hand. Keep in mind the reason you keep your index finger in front of the deck is so that when you pull the cards out and drop them, they don’t fall out of the side of your hand.
- Bring your hand back under the deck in the same way and repeat this movement as many times as it takes for the cards to completely transfer to your right hand.
- Square up the shuffled deck and repeat as many times as desired.
Pro tip: do your best to grab a different number of cards off the top each time. Don’t only cut two cards each time or it will take forever, and don’t cut 15 cards at a time or the deck won’t get sufficiently shuffled. Try to alternate the number of cards you grab so the deck is properly shuffled.
The Strip Shuffle
Now that you’re all warmed up, it’s time for one of the more advanced techniques of card shuffling. It looks relatively simple on its surface but is much more difficult to perform than meets the eye.
- Begin with the deck flat on the table in a landscape orientation, with both thumbs on the back edge and fingers on the front edge.
- Using your right thumb, grab a small portion of cards off the top of the deck and take your left hand to remove the rest of the deck going away from your body.
- Set the larger portion of cards in your left hand slightly off center on the packet in your right hand.
- Using your thumb and right index finger, grab another small portion of cards off the top and remove the rest of the deck with your left hand away from your body and bring it around to set back on the deck.
- Repeat this process as many times as desired.
Pro tip: This is not a race. The faster you try to go at first, the more room for error there is. Go slowly to begin. Get the hang of grabbing the proper amount of cards and setting the cards back onto the deck slightly off center.
By this point, you are used to squaring up the deck, but in this shuffling technique it doesn’t happen until the end of the shuffle. The trick is using that right index finger to snag the proper amount of cards as well as bringing the left hand around seamlessly.
And there you have it: six ways for an average card player to look like a pro when they shuffle cards. The key to the perfect shuffle is practice, so watch the videos and master one shuffle at a time. Once you have it down, impress your friends at your next card game.
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